By the time the sun managed to bully its way through my dust-covered blinds and rouse me from my passed out stupor, it was about mid afternoon. I knew this because I was able to move my head the three inches required to see the clock from my position on the floor.
Christ my head felt like shit! It was probably a consequence of finally being sober for the first time in 10 days. My mouth tasted of cigarettes, vomit, Taco Bell and ass. Not quite sure why on the last one. My clothes carried the stains of an almost two-week narcotic and alcohol binge. Yellowed sweat stains, dried beer, stale urine and who knows what else, created a disgusting map all over my body. I hadn’t changed in days.
I couldn’t stand to feel the way I did. Sobriety is bullshit!
I managed to pull myself up on my elbows and knees and dragged my mangy body to the kitchen table.
All out of coke.
All out of weed.
All out of hash.
All out of ‘shrooms.
All out of opium.
Christ, all out of booze!
This wouldn’t do at all. Hell, even the tube of airplane glue was empty, having been huffed to death days earlier. The bottle of Adderall was empty, its contents swallowed in an orgy of booze and pills. I had nothing left. Nothing! I licked the dirty table top, trying to glean every last particle of cocaine from the surface. All I got were old crumbs, lint and a couple of pubic hairs.
If I didn’t score something soon I was going to start going through withdrawal. Not a pretty sight. There was only one option: I was going to have to leave my shitty apartment and go to Raul’s for the hook up.
I managed to change my shirt, but didn’t worry about the pants. I figured Raul’s place would be too dark for the stains to show.
Then I went to the medicine cabinet and grabbed the rubbing alcohol. I hated having to do this, but it was all I had and I needed to get messed up. I took the bottle into the kitchen and hunted around in the garbage until I found the least moldy piece of bread I had, which wasn’t saying much because it was still moldy as shit. Then I filtered the rubbing alcohol through the bread into a glass. I didn’t get much, just a little over a shot’s worth, but it was alcohol, so I pinched my nose and gulped it down. It burned and tasted like shit going down my throat, but it warmed me and returned some life to my wasted body.
I threw on a coat and left the apartment, lighting a cigarette as I hopped down the steps, two at a time, avoiding the trash. It was only two blocks to Raul’s squalid apartment and the weather wasn’t too bad, (though I had been tweaked in my apartment for so long that I had almost forgotten what season it was) so I made it there in ten minutes without any problem.
Though I say “apartment” in actuality, Raul was squatting in an abandoned textile factory. The building was really old and super worn down. I hated going there and dealing with all the crap, but it was worth it, because everybody new that Raul always had the best shit!
I walked around the building to a door on the side that I knew to be broken. I kicked it open and stepped into the feted darkness. Old malt liquor bottles broke under my feet and senses were assaulted by the stench of the place. The smell was so cloying and thick that it felt like was alive and trying to force its way into my body to rot me from within. I gagged momentarily, but was quickly able to recover and moved deeper into the building. Christ it stank!
I knew that Raul had taken a room in the far part of the building for his apartment. I think it used to be the foreman’s office on the second floor where he could overlook his workers. So I trundled through the dark maze to get to Raul.
I had to step over the other people who made this decrepit building their home. Some were awake but too high to move. Their eyes darted to and fro, as if watching an invisible tennis game. Some were passed out, bottles of booze in their hands, or with rubber bands still tied around their arms, lying in puddles of their own waste. Some may have been dead, but I couldn’t tell because everybody smelled of death there and I didn’t slow down to find out.
Everywhere I looked I saw people trapped in their own private, narcotic-induced worlds. Some of those worlds looked to be paradise, some looked to be hell. While walking past a bathroom I saw a man attempting to shave his head with a broken bottle. Blood dripped down his face, into his ears and eyes, but it didn’t stop him from cutting and it didn’t stop him from laughing with glee as he did it.
Raggedy dogs littered the halls, their ribs showing through their malnourished bodies. There were some cats as well. I even think I saw a dog decomposing in a corner. I knew that some of these animals were strays and that some were pets. I also knew that some were food. From some far off room wafted the smell of cooking meat.
I walked through this wretched community with a goal in mind. I didn’t stop to contemplate the pathetic display of inhumanity that surrounded me, because I really didn’t care. In fact, if my plan succeeded, I might soon be joining them. A thought that filled me with equal amounts of dread and elation.
I finally reached the stairs and climbed them to Raul’s apartment/office. Inside I found him and three other people sitting around a table, playing poker. He saw me and smiled, I was in luck! I bought two grams of coke, an eighth of weed and even a few pills of undetermined origin or use. The real treat was the PCP, I hadn’t had any of that in months!
As I turned to leave the room and get the hell out of the building as fast as possible, I noticed a guy lying in the corner. He looked familiar, so I walked up to him for a closer look. It wasn’t as dark in that room as the rest of the building, but he was lying in the darkest corner. On closer inspection I could see that he was a swarthy man, maybe of Middle Eastern or Ethiopian descent. His hair was long, but matted and knotted. He obviously hadn’t washed it or taken care of it in a long time. His beard was in the same ratty condition, with chunks of vomit clinging to the hairs. He was wearing a white robe, which seemed an odd choice to me, with sandals. There were track marks up and down his arms and a needle was still sticking in his left arm. His eyes were glazed and unfocused. He was in heroin heaven.
I couldn’t place where I knew him from. Christ his face was familiar! Wait…Christ? Jesus Christ? Could it be? There’s no way!
I kicked him into coherency. His eyes focused on me and he ran his tongue across his dry, crusty lips, getting ready to speak.
“Quit saying my name in vain jack ass!” he managed to croak before passing out again.
“Jesus,” I said, shaking him awake again. “Jesus! What the hell are you doing here?!”
“Everybody knows Raul has the best shit!”
Damn, I guess I just found religion in this shithole.